Updating a Company logo or corporate visual identity is a complex task that must be approached using a strategic and proven process. Visual identity is one of the two most regularly consumer facing aspects of a Brand (be it corporate or product) along with the name. Visual identity holds power that is unique unto itself and changing a visual identity is always a risk, but one that promises the ability to dictate perception in a way that other Brand changes don’t quite have to ability to.
Sometimes, the answer to a visual rebrand can be far more subtle than dramatic. That by no means minimizes its impact, but rather maintains the Brand’s existing equity and strength to begin with. A classic example of this is the evolution of John Deere’s corporate identity. John Deere dedicates a section of their website specifically to discussing how the corporate visual identity has changed over the years and this illustrates a tremendous amount of care and respect for the branding process:
Although the design had already been in use for three years prior, the corporate logo was not registered until the year 1876. Depicting a deer (rumored to be an animal native to Africa – not the North American white-tailed variety it would later become) leaping over a log.
Again, registered a few years after it was first used in 1912, the logo changed to show a more detailed version of the deer and the landscape over which it was vaulting. This design also implemented the slogan “The Trade Mark of Quality Made Famous by Good Implements.”
In an effort make the logo easier to physically stencil on products, this update saw some of the previous detail removed in favor of a simpler design, and introduced the concept as an emblem mark to the Company with the deer, name, and slogan fully enclosed and unified within a border.
Simplifying the emblem mark, the deer’s antlers see significant change, the design around the logo simplified, and a new, simpler slogan to match as well: “Quality Farm Equipment.”
“A clean-cut, contemporary look” even further stylized the deer design, as well as narrowed the over all logo and removed the new slogan. This was the beginning of the iconic design we all know today.
The current design offers some subtle yet important changes. A now dramatically stylized deer featured sharper edges and angles and for the first time displayed the deer leaping up rather than appearing to land. “The current version illustrates John Deere’s determination to stay focused on being the premier company in its industries worldwide, while remaining firmly rooted in its basic values of quality, innovation, integrity and commitment.”
Corporate logo redesign will remain one of the most intense and powerful decisions any Company will have to make. But with a firm understanding of when it is the appropriate choice and a proven process behind the effort, it will be an effective tool in maintaining a prosperous position in the mind of consumers and true representation of the Brand purpose, supporting the Company’s messaging and values.